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Mormon mom Ruby Franke faces 60 years as YouTube empire crumbles over child abuse charges

By Jake Beardslee · December 19, 2023

In brief…

  • Ruby Franke was a popular "momfluencer" on YouTube with 2.3 million followers
  • She pleaded guilty this week to abusing and starving two of her six children
  • Franke had drawn criticism before, but her fame and privilege protected her from consequences
  • This summer, police found two severely abused kids at her business partner's home
Mormon mom-of-six and YouTube star Ruby Franke, who disciplined her kids cruelly on camera, has admitted to child abuse charges after two children escaped her home starving and wounded.  Screenshot/Utah State Courts

Mommy blogger Ruby Franke built an online empire of 2.3 million YouTube followers by giving the world a glimpse into her picture-perfect Mormon family life. But this week, her facade crumbled as she pleaded guilty to abusing two of her six children.

Franke admitted to four counts of second-degree aggravated child abuse under a plea deal. Prosecutors say she starved and restrained her children with duct tape, The Daily Mail reported. Her arrest in August came after one of her malnourished 12-year-old sons escaped and sought help from neighbors.

Franke’s controversial discipline techniques had drawn public criticism for years. But investigations by child services didn’t find actionable evidence of abuse, likely because of Franke’s affluent background and internet celebrity.

That changed this summer when police found two of Franke’s children severely underweight and wounded at the home of Franke’s business partner Jodi Hildebrandt. Hildebrandt ran a fringe childrearing philosophy called “ConneXions” which promotes harsh punishments. Franke has tried shifting blame to her, but authorities implicated Franke directly through surveillance footage.

The shocking revelations dismayed Franke’s loyal followers, who felt duped by her perfect online image. They unleashed their fury as authorities moved to protect Franke’s children. Franke now faces up to 60 years in prison when she’s sentenced next year.